Worth a Trip
At Capo Tindari, just off the autostrada between Milazzo and Cefalù, a historic church, Santuario della Madonna del Tindari, and an ancient Greco-Roman site, Tyndaris, make an interesting detour. Coming from the east, turn off the autostrada at Oliveri and follow signs for Tindari/Tyndaris. If you're coming from the west, the site is 12km from Marina di Patti on the SS113. Drivers must park in the paid lot at the foot of the hill, then walk (15 minutes) or take the shuttle bus (€1 return, five minutes) up to the sanctuary and the ruins.
Santuario della Madonna del Tindari This enormous church can be seen from miles around: it sits right on Capo Tindari, its dome glistening in the sun. A sanctuary was built here in the 16th century to house the icon of the Bruna Madonnina del Tindari (Black Madonna of Tindari), but the current garishly decorated building mainly dates from the 20th century. The inscription underneath the icon reads Nigra sum, sed hermosa (I am black, but beautiful).
Tyndaris This ancient Greek holy place was founded by Dionysis of Syracuse after his victory over the Carthaginians in 396 BC. The secluded ruins (a basilica, agora, Roman house and Greek theatre) are set on the cliff edge amid prickly pears, olives and cypress trees. In summer you can clearly see the Aeolian Islands and the lovely Oliveri lagoon in the bay below. There's also a small museum displaying artefacts excavated at the site.